Firstly, congratulations and welcome to teaching!
2020 has been one heck of a year (so far!!) and you are truly in for a baptism of fire! It will be challenging no doubt – but you are well able for it!
Your NQT year will be a bit of a journey, just like your training was – but by now you know that the highs will always balance out the lows. Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world!
It’s only July but for those of you starting out in late August or September, you are probably already thinking about school starting.
Here are 6 top tips to help you get through this upcoming year!
‘Don’t expect to get everything done’
One of our favourite quotes is from Greg McKweon – he says that you can do anything but you can’t do everything!
This is so true with teaching.
There is always another way of doing things.
There is always more to be done and there is always more you would like to do.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
So know this: You will NOT get everything done – there will always be another job to do.
Make peace with that as soon as you can!
‘Always remember why you came into teaching’
There will be tough days.
Days where the lessons don’t work out.
Days where you have difficult conversations.
Days where you hear bad news about a student and your heart breaks.
Teaching is not easy – if it was, everyone would do it.
Try to remember why you got into this profession, so when you have a hard day, it will help you get through it.
‘Marking can lead to burnout’
Dylan Wiliam, lead researcher in assessment says: “feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor”. In other words, if you are working harder than the students then something has gone wrong.
We mark to give clear feedback to students; to require students to correct and improve their work and to understand gaps in knowledge and inform teaching. Teachers should not be marking everything as you cannot have quality if there is quantity.
Unfortunately, many teachers are under the illusion that they must mark every piece of work a student does. This is both inefficient and ineffective for all parties.
By adopting an approach like four quarters marking, we might go some way to address teacher workload, and at the same time, give students more ownership over their own learning.
‘Take care of yourself’
In 2014, a Millward Brown survey conducted found that over half of teachers in Ireland felt ‘continuously stressed’.
Hmm… not good.
You are in this for the long haul so remember that it’s not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
Take your time.
Forget about perfectionism.
Make time to exercise.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Look after number 1.
It’s good practice to start your career by ensuring you have a healthy work-life balance so start creating positive habits now!
‘Take responsibility for yourself’
If we got a Euro for every time we read a post on the Voice for Teachers Facebook page of teachers complaining that their contributions are not being recognised and they have not been thanked or credited or being passed over for promotion for someone who does less than them… my God!
If you get entrenched in this type of negative thinking it can be damaging to you personally and in your career – you start to feel like you would be better off somewhere else, where people notice you.
As Doireann Garrihy preaches “Nobody gives a F about you”.
As an adult, and a professional, it is your responsibility to highlight your contributions appropriately – you can’t expect other people to be telepathic or psychic. Schools are busy places. Teachers are busy. Principals are busy. These days, even the students are busy. Nobody is paying attention to what you are doing – if you want them to notice, you have to tell them.
It is up to you to be proactive and to advocate for yourself.
So do it.
‘You’re really important’
After socio-economic factors, research has shown that a teacher has the greatest impact on student achievement (OECD, 2016).
You are so important and the work you do can, literally, change lives for the better!
You have what it takes – you can do this job!
And never let anyone make you feel otherwise – you matter!